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UK AD & World Biogas Expo
President’s Blog: A Long-term View On Waste

Those of you outside the UK will not have been informed about the consultations the Government has issued on the reform of the waste management system. The changes proposed are quite revolutionary and include the weekly, obligatory separate collection of food waste from households and business. Government recognises AD as the preferred treatment option. An estimated 2 to 3 million tonnes of extra food waste will be collected and will need treating by 2030. Reforms to packaging and plastic use are also proposed.

The consultations look at the impact related to this- climate, recycling volumes, renewable energy, costs, targets.  By May 13th all those interested in giving evidence will have done so and then the Government will look at the legislative proposals to put into place by 2022.  You can read the consultations and the interesting impact assessments here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?departments%5B%5D=department-for-environment-food-rural-affairs&publication_filter_option=consultations

I mention this because the long-term view is required to ensure the waste management system is made fit for purpose as countries look to implement policies to meet targets on climate change and Sustainable Development Goals. Moving the waste industry forward is a slow task as the investments made in costly infrastructure need to be amortised while funding new plants requires long-term certainty over waste flows, finances, markets for outputs.

All EU nations will have the same challenge as they implement national policies to meet the Circular Economy Directives approved last July. Food waste is central to all this, not just for renewable energy production and nutrient recycling, but also to ensure cleaner streams of dry recyclables for recovery as raw materials. AD therefore has a central role to play- but it has to be done correctly. Often digestate management and quality is less than optimal; ammonia emissions from storage need to be reduced; methane leakage needs to be reduced; the industry needs to work with farmers to produce fertilisers the market wants, which we rarely do now. And ensuring clean collection systems to eliminate pollution to soil from above all plastics, is a challenge we face globally.

In our Parliamentary Reception on February 26th 43 Embassies were represented and we had the opportunity of discussing with diplomats from all around the world how biogas can be a solution to issues on climate, air and water pollution, soil quality.  It was a wonderful event and full of inspiration. Now as we move forward to the Athens conference in May and the World Biogas Summit in July, we can take these conversations further and promote our industry’s solutions globally.

I look forward to seeing you then.

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